Beckett on Flaubert, Balzac and others

An excerpt (I guess) from Brigitte Le Juez’ Beckett Before Beckett: Samuel Beckett’s Lectures on French Literature at the Guardian (via Maud):

Beckett favoured the absence of a controlling authorial personality and any sense of finality in a text, and was opposed to the control, embellishment or glorification of reality. In these respects, Flaubert was an exemplary modern author for him. Citing Madame Bovary and SalammbĂ´ he explained that Flaubert was neither photographer nor image monger, but a writer who displayed an honest apprehension of reality.

Beckett denied any modernity in Balzac, whose flawed duality he denounced – on the one hand he was a realist, and on the other a romantic psychologist. But, for Beckett, these two aspects did not fit together, resulting in a profound lack of cohesion in Balzac’s work. According to Beckett a modern writer must seek “homogeneity”. Thus, Flaubert was at once coherent and complex, in the manner in which the extreme precision of his texts revealed the contradiction of so-called 19th-century realism: exactitude was inevitably bound to be frustrated because confusion cannot be reduced to a neat narrative Ă  la Balzac.

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